Devoted from the start, Liz Adcock was one of the first women to RSVP to the first LWD event. Ever since, she's remained a leader and advocate for us, all while building an impressive career in film production for brands like AirBnb, NatGeo and Coors (to name a few). Here, she shares more about her story—from working for Disney in LA to landing here in Nashville—to her passion for photography and adventures in film.
So what do you do?
I went to school for photography and advertising and my background is photo production, but since coming to Nashville I’ve been doing all film production. I was previously working for Disney ABC in LA, which inspired this path. For the last year and a half I worked at a film production company called Evolve and recently left to pursue freelance. (At time of interview Liz was 100% freelance, she has since accepted a role with a company called StudioNow.) I always thought I’d be more involved on the camera side since that’s what I studied, but I’m really enjoying production. It’s very stressful and everything falls on you, but it forces you to think on your feet and be creative really fast. I recently worked on a shoot in Memphis for AirBnb. While we were there, we stayed at the Graceland Resort and it was insane. So many old ladies with Elvis tattoos.
Could you describe production for people who aren’t as familiar with film industry? How do you describe what you do?
I’m the showrunner, for lack of a better word. I book the crew, tell them where to go, and when to be there. I make sure all the gear has been ordered. I always have to be 5 steps ahead and look into the future. With production, there are no boundaries—I'll get a call at midnight, "Hey, last-minute change! 8AM call time but we gotta get this done now, need a new PA...", so it's always thinking on your feet and being prepared for anything to go wrong. You have to be a good problem solver. My title right now is production coordinator, which is an entry-level position before becoming a producer. I also do a lot of styling and prop assisting. My ultimate dream would be to be a creative producer or photo stylist. Content branding for products would be ideal.
What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on?
About a year ago we did a NatGeo and Coors Light duo branding commercial. We flew to Denver and did this hike, the idea was that we were going to go to the top of this mountain with this photographer who is the star of this commercial. I am not a very physically active person, so we had to wake up at midnight and start this hike at 1AM, it took 3 hours to get up the mountain. I’m carrying a 60 pound backpack. The crew is about 5 of us and 2 clients, the talent (the photographer) and the director. It’s pitch black and we are in headlamps. I don’t hike so that was crazy. We got to the top an hour faster than we had anticipated, so we had an hour before sunrise. We’re freezing and we’re not dressed properly because we didn’t think it’d be so cold. It was so windy, we end up in a body pile to stay warm, wrapped in trash bags to add layers. We’re spooning in a big circle, I had cell service and was googling “At what point do you feel hypothermia?” My body was involuntarily shaking at this point. It was terrifying.
And, it was amazing. It was maybe my second shoot with this company. It was a 13 hour day. I’m exhausted by the end of it but we got all the shots; it was beautiful...this photographer working on the edge of a cliff, incorporating Coors. I was sitting there misting the bottle, the photographer was telling me he was leaving tomorrow for a shoot abroad and on the hike down he trips and twists his ankle. So we had to help him waddle down this mountain. Everything that went wrong could have, but all in all it was amazing. It ended up only being around 3 minutes of footage. You hustle and hustle and the end game may only be a 30 second spot. People see these commercials and they have no idea how much of someone’s soul has gone into it.
It seems like with that kind of work it seems like you really have to keep a positive attitude…
Yeah attitude is everything, whether you’re a PA or an intern or the highest level creative director on set. To work in film you don’t really have to get a college degree, but as long as you’re really good and you have an amazing attitude people will want to work with you. It can make or break an entire set. If your producer or director has a bad attitude then everything can go wrong.
So how long have you lived in Nashville?
Two years and loving it! The people and the energy has been really inspiring.
So photography was your thing, and you stumbled into production — what was that like?
My internship at Disney kickstarted it. I worked in the photography and visual communication department doing all photo production, but was still the world of film. I was really intimidated by that since I didn’t go to film school or study production and a lot of my peers had. It turned out I was good at it and I was like, “Oh wow! I can be creative and organized!" I love planning things, so that quickly turned into me planning shoots and managing the crew. I liked it. I had never thought about that as a profession before. When you see the outcome at the end of a shoot and everybody’s happy it reminds you that it’s all worth it.
If you could go back and talk to eighteen-year-old year old Liz, what would you say?
I loved what I did in college so I wouldn’t change anything in that sense, but if I could get a minor in film I would just because that would have been really cool. I’d tell myself to network more—I wish I had taken that more seriously. Now I understand how important it is but in college I definitely didn’t. I thought it was all about good grades and making cool work.
I also would have sought a mentor's guidance. I did all these photography internships and loved them, but think I was still trying to find my niche and what aspect of photography I wanted to pursue. My program in school was very fine art focused so they didn’t really want you to do commercial work—I’m glad I double-majored in advertising.
If someone wanted to get into the film industry in Nashville where would they start?
I’d say look at small production companies, they are always looking for interns. An internship might be unpaid, but it lets people see who you are, that you have a great attitude, and that you’re killing it. Network and apply to every internship you can find. Make it known that you’re available. For freelance, it's as simple as dropping an email to say, “Hey, letting you know I went freelance, would love to grab coffee soon!” As often as you can, remind people you're available without being annoying. That's been the biggest help. And, make sure to maintain those relationships. I left the company where I was when I felt stagnant in my role, which is when you know it’s the right time to go. I felt like I'd gained enough experience there, and that I could just dive right into freelance.
So give us a glimpse into your personal life..
My fiancé and I moved out here two years ago, he’s a graphic designer at Lonely Planet and he also loves photography. We both aim to inspire each other and grow together. We’ve been together 9 years and got engaged in May. We have a bunny named Pancake. Nashville still sometimes feels new to me, so I’m still finding myself here. Since going freelance I’ve been trying to stay active so I’ve been volunteering or doing personal work. I think it's really important to collaborate and inspire each other, especially women in creative industries, so being involved in groups such as LWD have been so crucial in this stage of my life. Whether that’s helping with my path of self discovery or helping me focus on career goals, I think it’s so crucial to connect and empower the women in your community.
What’s your favorite wine?
Cabernet, but I love all wines! If it’s being offered to me I’ll take it. I also love scary movies and huge into true crime—give me a horror movie and I’m set.
So what’s next, and what's your long term goal?
I’m looking for full time jobs (Liz accepted a full-time position at StudioNow since this interview!) but I’d love to one day be a Creative Director, whether that's for a network or otherwise. For now I want to stay in film, but photoshoots are definitely my favorite.